Baptist Jacksonville launches new clinical stroke trials


Baptist Jacksonville is conducting two new stroke trials at the Stroke & Cerebrovascular Center at Baptist Medical Center Jacksonville. The trials, DAWN and POSTIVE, use devices and medications to potentially help stroke victims past the window for minimally invasive treatment.

“Through our clinical trials, someone who has a stroke in our community has access to treatments that are potentially very impactful for preservation of their quality of life,” said Dr. Eric Sauvageau, director of the Stroke & Cerebrovascular Center at Baptist Jacksonville. “The clinical trials also help define the new frontier of stroke treatment.”

According to the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, approximately 795,000 Americans suffer a new or recurrent stroke each year. On average, a stroke occurs every 40 seconds and is the fifth leading cause of death, taking nearly 129,000 lives a year. Stroke is also the leading cause of long-term disability.

Through the two new clinical trials, DAWN and POSTITIVE, doctors hope to reduce those numbers by providing endovascular intervention to ischemic stroke patients, who currently can’t get tissue plasminogen activator, or tPA. The only FDA-approved treatment for ischemic strokes, tPA works by dissolving the clot and improving blood flow to the part of the brain being deprived of blood flow. With an endovascular intervention procedure, neurovascular surgeons can use a stent retriever device to remove the bold clot. The device can go into the blood vessel through the groin and up to the brain to unblock the vessel.

Currently, the standard of care for interventional treatment is within six hours after the start of stroke symptoms, but the DAWN trial will explore using the stent retriever between six and 24 hours after a stroke has occurred.

The POSTIVE trial also uses devices and medications approved by the FDA for opening clotted blood vessels, but will explore treatment options up to 12 hours after symptoms first began. Patients for the trial are selected based on special advanced imaging that is new to Baptist and shows how much of the brain is still viable.

Dr. Ricardo Hanel, director of the Baptist Neurological Institute at Baptist Jacksonville, said the two trials are particularly beneficial for people who wake up with a stroke and do not know when the symptoms first occurred. For those patients, clot buster medications are not an option since the medication must be provided within 4.5 hours of symptoms occurring in order to be effective, he said.

Currently, Baptist Health has more than 20 clinical trials for stroke and aneurysms.

“Having clinical trials ongoing allows us to be on the cutting edge of new concepts, techniques and technologies,” said Dr. Hanel, who is also the primary international investigator on some of the trials. “What it means for the patient is they have first-hand access to what are the latest and potentially the greatest technology before anyone else in the country.”